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[in-tl-ekt] /ˈɪn tlˌɛkt/
the power or faculty of the mind by which one knows or understands, as distinguished from that by which one feels and that by which one wills; the understanding; the faculty of thinking and acquiring knowledge.
capacity for thinking and acquiring knowledge, especially of a high or complex order; mental capacity.
a particular mind or intelligence, especially of a high order.
a person possessing a great capacity for thought and knowledge.
minds collectively, as of a number of persons or the persons themselves.
Origin of intellect
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin intellēctus, equivalent to intelleg(ere) to understand + -tus suffix of v. action; see intelligent
1. reason, sense, common sense, brains. See mind. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for intellect
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This boasted power of intellect—this giddy triumph of beauty—what do they do for you?

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Conscience, he said, was the soul's safeguard, and reason the safeguard of the heart and intellect.

    Life in London Edwin Hodder
  • For him the intellect as such is the organ of religious truth.

    Understanding the Scriptures Francis McConnell
  • At other times the contests are only of the intellect and the mind, but are equally remarkable.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • His intellect was a blank; he had no knowledge, no desires, no affections.

British Dictionary definitions for intellect


the capacity for understanding, thinking, and reasoning, as distinct from feeling or wishing
a mind or intelligence, esp a brilliant one: his intellect is wasted on that job
(informal) a person possessing a brilliant mind; brain
those possessing the greatest mental power: the intellect of a nation
Derived Forms
intellective, adjective
intellectively, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin intellectus comprehension, intellect, from intellegere to understand; see intelligence
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for intellect

late 14c. (but little used before 16c.), from Old French intellecte "intellectual capacity" (13c.), and directly from Latin intellectus "discernment, a perception, understanding," from noun use of past participle of intelligere "to understand, discern" (see intelligence).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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